Capital Group Lobbying Against U.S. Bank Debt Plan

Capital Group, one of the world’s largest asset managers, has been quietly lobbying in Washington against an expected proposal designed to make it easier to deal with large banks facing financial difficulties, the Financial Times reported Sunday on its website.

A Federal Reserve rule, expected to be proposed next year, could force the largest financial groups to issue substantial amounts of debt at the holding company level, according to regulators and industry officials who have been briefed on the matter, the FT said.

As a top shareholder in several big banks, including Citigroup (C) and J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), Capital Group has been arguing in private meetings with members of the Senate banking committee that the proposal would erode banks’ future earnings and decrease profitability because the proposal would increase banks’ funding costs, the FT reported, citing unnamed participants in the meetings.

Newspaper website: www.ft.com

Write to copydesk@dowjones.com

Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

Insight: Security fears dogged Canada debate on China energy bid

In September, two months after China’s state-owned CNOOC Ltd made an unexpected $15.1 billion bid for Canadian energy company Nexen Inc, Canada’s spy agency told ministers that takeovers by Chinese companies may threaten national security.

The rare warning from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which was disclosed to Reuters by intelligence sources, did not stop the takeover. That was approved by Canadian authorities earlier this month.

But the intervention and an influential U.S. lawmaker’s warning in October that Canadian companies should be careful about doing business with Chinese telecom equipment companies Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp made the approval process for the deal more difficult than initially expected.

“CSIS did not like the Nexen bid and thought it was a bad idea for Chinese firms to be investing in the oil sands. It all played into their greater fears about firms like Huawei,” said one person familiar with the agency’s concerns. “They do not want to wake up one day and realize a crucial sector of the economy is under the control of foreign interests.”

And after listening to the spy service, which usually keeps a low profile, Canada drew up surprisingly tough foreign investment rules that were unveiled when approving the Nexen deal, China’s biggest-ever successful foreign takeover. In a clampdown on companies it deems influenced by foreign governments, Canada will block similar purchases in the future.

CSIS has been silent about what it said to Ottawa on the Nexen transaction, and it declined to comment for this story. It didn’t specifically recommend the CNOOC deal be blocked, but rather warned more generally about such deals with Chinese entities, the person said.

In reality, the government was unlikely to want to block the CNOOC bid, given a high-profile push by Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier in the year to boost ties with China, and given that a lot of Nexen’s assets are outside Canada, and it has underperformed other energy companies.

SPECIFIC WORRIES

By pushing back aggressively, CSIS ensured that it got foreign investment policy tightened significantly to deter similar such takeovers by companies under the sway of foreign governments.

“I think people at CSIS and elsewhere are going ‘Good. That was a very good response by the government’,” said Ray Boisvert, a former CSIS assistant director of intelligence, who retired this year after almost three decades at the agency.

“It did reflect some of those deep strategic concerns that practitioners have had about this kind of investment.”

Specific worries include theft of Canadian intellectual property, espionage, computer hacking and foreign companies gaining too much influence over crucial sectors of the economy, said the person familiar with the agency’s views.

The government could, in theory, nationalize assets if it thought foreign control was problematic. But the pro-business Conservatives would likely find it politically unpalatable to take such a step.

“To be blunt, Canadians have not spent years reducing the ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments, only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead,” Harper said as he announced the new investment rules.

In October, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee urged U.S. firms to stop doing business with Huawei and another Chinese telecom equipment company ZTE on the grounds that Beijing could use products made by the two companies to spy.

The House Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, urged Canada to take a similar stance, and two days later, the Canadian government indicated it would not let Huawei help build a secure government communications network because of possible security risks.

“The Huawei business caused a lot of political complications for the CNOOC bid,” another person familiar with the CNOOC deal said of the U.S. committee’s report.

Both Huawei and ZTE have repeatedly denied the allegations in the report, and China’s foreign ministry dismissed as “baseless” the idea that security concerns could impede commercial ties.

“We hope that the relevant party can objectively and justly treat Chinese companies’ overseas investment and cooperation plans, and stop actions which harm Chinese companies’ image and do more to benefit the promotion of bilateral trade and business cooperation,” said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

CLANDESTINE SUPPORT

In its annual report, released in September, CSIS noted risks that included espionage and illegal technology transfers, and said some foreign state-owned enterprises had “pursued opaque agendas or received clandestine intelligence support for their pursuits” in Canada.

The agency did not give details, but added: “When foreign companies with ties to foreign intelligence agencies or hostile governments seek to acquire control over strategic sectors of the Canadian economy, it can represent a threat to Canadian security interests.”

CSIS, hit by controversy in 2010 after its head suggested China had too much influence over some Canadian provincial politicians, did not mention any country or firm in its report.

It is unclear how much, if any, influence the United States had on the Canadian authorities’ foreign investment policy.

Fen Hampson, head of the global security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario, said he had learned that a U.S. official visited Ottawa in the last few months to discuss mutual concerns about foreign state-owned enterprises.

U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson told Reuters he was not aware of such a meeting, but he noted that officials from the two countries met constantly. “I would be surprised if almost any issue you could think of has not come up in one or more of those conversations,” he said. “The United States has not sought to influence Canada’s decision with respect to that (CNOOC’s bid)… We respect that decision.”

The Canadian government did not respond to a request for a comment.

Chinese companies have bought up smaller Canadian energy firms before, but the July 23 bid for Nexen was their first attempt to buy one of the larger players.

Nexen has assets in Canada, the North Sea, Nigeria and the Gulf of Mexico. Technology that Nexen and its partners use for deep sea drilling could interest CNOOC. [ID:nL4N09N3R5]

Asked about the CSIS concerns, a spokeswoman for Industry Minister Christian Paradis replied: “The government has the authority to take any measures it considers necessary to protect national security.”

Yet two people close to the deal noted that the Canadian government did not exercise its option to do a separate review of the potential security risks of the CNOOC-Nexen bid, again signaling its concerns were tied to overall Chinese investment rather than to this particular deal.

Under the new rules, which Paradis is responsible for enforcing, foreign state-owned enterprises can no longer buy controlling stakes in assets in the oil sands, the biggest reserve of crude oil outside Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Such enterprises can buy minority stakes in the oil sands, or majority stakes in companies outside the oil sands. Companies deemed to have strong government links will be treated with particular caution wherever they propose to invest.

“When it comes to our security and intelligence services, they would rather pull up the drawbridge than let it down,” said Hampson, co-author of a report on trade ties between Canada and emerging nations that he discussed with Harper in June.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Janet Guttsman, Martin Howell and Jan Paschal)

Report Barclays to Overhaul Pay, Bonuses

Incoming Barclays PLC (BARC.LN) compliance chief Hector Sants has been tasked with rewriting rules on salary and bonuses to drive down costs and stop criticism of executive pay policies, the Sunday Telegraph reported without citing sources.

The former head of the U.K. Financial Services Authority has been asked to play a key role in writing the new pay strategy, to be revealed at the bank’s strategic review on Feb. 12, the newspaper said.

Sants will work with new Chief Executive Anthony Jenkins to reduce compensation levels and change the way performances are evaluated, The Sunday Telegraph said.

This will mean that future payouts will be based as much on the “social impacts” of deals and products sold as on their financial goals, the paper said.

Mr. Sants and Mr. Jenkins replace top executives who quit over the Libor-fixing scandal, including former CEO Bob Diamond, who was criticized for his fat pay packages and perceived risks in the investment-banking business he built.

Last week the Financial Times reported that Sants’ remuneration package was worth up to GBP3 million as part of his move to Barclays next month. A Barclays spokeswoman declined to comment.

-London Bureau, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9320

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

Rothschild Warned Over Bumi Vote

Investor Nat Rothschild should be barred from voting on plans to resurrect struggling U.K.-listed Indonesian coal miner Bumi PLC, according to its newly-installed chief executive, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

The newspaper said Nick von Schirnding also believes Bumi’s other founding investors, who have engaged in a public battle over the business, should not vote.

“My personal view is that none of the founder shareholders should be able to vote [on what the independent directors propose], to allow the independent shareholders to vote,” it quoted him saying. “I think that is the fairest to be honest.”

The Sunday Telegraph said Mr. von Schirnding cannot enforce this opinion but he cites the departure of founder shareholders from Bumi’s board as evidence of progress.

“I have said this repeatedly to the founder shareholders, “Cede control for value” — because ultimately this is what this is about,” Mr von Schirnding is quoted as saying.

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

CF-18 pilots on standby to escort Santa across Canada

Santa Claus may see you when you’re sleeping, but only a privileged few can actually see Santa during his high-speed international flight on Christmas Eve.

The job of escorting Santa while the rest of the world sleeps falls to the same people tasked with keeping North American skies safe the other 364 days of the year: the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD.)

But it’s more than monitoring the jolly man’s flight on radar: Santa also gets a fighter jet escort during his time in North American airspace.

Videos released on NORAD’s website reveal two of the four Canadian fighter jet pilots given one of the most special, secret missions around: escorting Santa’s sleigh during his Canadian deliveries “like a small parade.”

CFB Bagotville-based Maj. Benoit Bouchard and Capt. Vincent Landry were filmed as part of NORAD’s promotional video this year.

After Santa’s flight through Eastern Canada is complete, the Quebec-based pilots will hand off to CF-18s from 4 Wing in Cold Lake, Alta., somewhere around the Ontario-Manitoba border.

Lt.-Col. Daniel McLeod is one of two CF-18 pilots from CFB Cold Lake, Alta., chosen to provide Santa's fighter jet escort on Monday night. Lt.-Col. Daniel McLeod is one of two CF-18 pilots from CFB Cold Lake, Alta., chosen to provide Santa’s fighter jet escort on Monday night. (Canadian Forces)

CBC News has learned that the pilots taking over this year are Lt.-Col. Daniel McLeod and Captain Shamus Allen.

The western pilots will escort Santa to the border with Alaska before handing off to their American counterparts.

McLeod, who is the commanding officer of 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, tells CBC News that while it means being away from his own kids at Christmas, the chance to fly this particular mission was one he didn’t want to miss late in his flying career.

“I wanted to, for my own personal benefit, get the chance to see jolly St. Nick in his sleigh,” McLeod said Thursday. He says his kids “understand that I have a pretty important job to do, both for the defence of Canada but also to escort Santa Claus across the countryside.”

Santa likes the camera, waves

McLeod said that in addition to the CF-18’s modern video targeting pod, which is capable of taking good images at night, he’s going to try to bring along his own personal camera for the flight.

Pilots who have flown the escort missions in previous years report Santa does slow down and wave for the initial interception and identification by the CF-18s. He’s hoping to get a good shot of the otherwise-elusive elf, who has appeared to enjoy posing for the camera during previous missions in previous years.

NORAD Tracks Santa

Over 1,200 volunteers will be on duty across North America on Dec. 24 tracking the flight of Santa’s sleigh.

The public can receive updates on his location by calling 1-877-HINORAD.

More information about Santa’s journey and NORAD’s tracking technology is available at www.noradsanta.org.

Interception is part of NORAD’s job regardless, McLeod says. “We have to identify and confirm who or what that is that’s flying through our airspace and or approaching our airspace and since Santa will be approaching from across the Atlantic, we have a fairly good idea that it’s him but we don’t take any chances.”

Meeting Santa is special, but in some ways, it works just like any other interception.

“It’s not that unique in that we’re intercepting a flying object and then tracking it and passing the information on to our higher headquarters,” he admits.

The CF-18 pilots are planning to wave their fighter jet wings as a sign of respect for St. Nicholas.

“After that he’s going to be back down to business. He’s got to go down a lot of chimneys,” McLeod says.

Other teams provide support

In the past, Santa has chosen to fly at an altitude of between 10,000 and 20,000 feet, NORAD says, which avoids too much climbing and descending. Any higher, and things would get pretty cold for him, not to mention posing other dangers.

“Part of the reason we escort Santa is not only out of a sign of respect … but it’s also for his own safety,” McLeod says. “We’re monitoring civilian air traffic, so if he was up much higher that could be a concern.”

Capt. Vincent Landry, left, and Maj. Benoit Bouchard from CFB Bagotville will provide Santa's military escort through the skies in Eastern Canada.Capt. Vincent Landry, left, and Maj. Benoit Bouchard from CFB Bagotville will provide Santa’s military escort through the skies in Eastern Canada. (YouTube/Norad Tracks Santa)

“We’ve got your six,” Landry assures Santa Claus in NORAD’s video, which McLeod explains is how a fighter jet pilot commits to looking after his wingman.

“Fighters always travel in at least pairs,” he says, “you’ve always got someone who is ‘checking your six,’ who is checking behind you, making sure nobody is sneaking up behind you to do you harm.”

McLeod will be speaking with his colleagues as well as other military planners over the weekend to make final arrangements for the mission. They’ll be checking weather forecasts and making sure spare planes are ready in case any difficulties arise.

Because of the vast distances, the CF-18 pilots will be refuelled mid-air by their colleagues from 435 Squadron Winnipeg and 437 Squadron Trenton.

“Particularly when we get to some of the larger cities – like Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon – that’s where we’re going to be able to do some of our refuelling,” McLeod says. “We know that he’s going to be very preoccupied delivering presents to that many homes [close together] … one of our jets will be getting refuelling while the other one is monitoring over the city.”


TRACKING SANTA
By the numbers: Santa’s sleigh
NORAD research explains the technology behind the Christmas Eve delivery run

“He’s going to be moving so fast from house to house, I have to be honest, we won’t be able to keep track of him,” McLeod admits, pointing out that Santa flies at a speed of one T – the twinkling of an eye – while his plane is limited to all the regular laws of physics.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to keep up with him from one large centre to another,” he admits. “His momentary stops on rooftops will be in a blink of an eye for us.”

Asked whether he’s been a good boy this year, McLeod said, “absolutely.”

No GPS for Santa: he flies on instinct

NORAD says the escort is provided “as a matter of respect and courtesy,” not because of any specific operational concerns they’re prepared to disclose.

“Remember that Santa’s been doing this a long time,” says Capt. Wright Eruebi, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Air Forces 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg. “He knows what he’s doing.”

A separate news release issued by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office Friday confirmed what many may have expected: Santa is a “well-known traditionalist” who “has not yet adopted GPS technology, preferring the instincts of his reindeer.”

Defence Minister Peter MacKay responded to CBC News’ request for comment on this story in verse, which read in part:

“As Santa and the elves load up his sleigh, Canadian pilots and NORAD prepare to track his way.

The reindeer are quick led by Rudolph’s red nose, so our pilots fly fast as everyone knows!

As our planes get close to make sure Santa’s alright, his jolly laugh always warms up the night.”

The Harper government’s controversial purchase of replacements for the aging CF-18 fleet may give the Canadian pilots tasked with Santa’s escort duty even better tools to track Santa in the future, including stealth capability to keep from drawing too much attention to Santa’s flight.

NORAD spokespeople won’t comment on the replacement of the fighter jets, saying it’s of a “political nature.”

“I can assure you that Santa feels the same way,” Capt. Wright Eruebi, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Air Forces 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg. “He is happy to be escorted, no matter which aircraft we fly.”

Source: NORAD Tracks SantaSource: NORAD Tracks Santa (www.noradsanta.org)

Egypt’s opposition claims fraud in constitution vote

Egypt’s opposition called Sunday for an investigation into allegations of vote fraud in the referendum on a deeply divisive Islamist-backed constitution after the Muslim Brotherhood, the main group backing the charter, claimed it passed with a 64 per cent “yes” vote.

Official results have not been released yet and are expected on Monday. If the unofficial numbers are confirmed, it will be a victory Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who is from the Brotherhood.

But for many Egyptians, especially the tens of millions who live in extreme poverty, the results are unlikely to bring a hoped for end to the turmoil that has roiled their country for nearly two years since the uprising that ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.

‘The results of the referendum are for sure because of the rigging, violations and mismanagement that characterized it.’—National Salvation Front

The opposition allegations look likely to prolong the struggle that has exploded in deadly street violence at times over the past month, ensuring that stability will remain elusive.

“The referendum is not the end game. It is only a battle in this long struggle for the future of Egypt,” said the National Salvation Front, the main opposition group. “We will not allow a change to the identity of Egypt or the return of the age of tyranny.”

The opposition claims the new constitution seeks to enshrine Islamic rule in Egypt and accuses the Islamists of trying to monopolize power.

Critics say it does not sufficiently protect the rights of women and minority groups and empowers Muslim clerics by giving them a say over legislation. Some articles were also seen as tailored to get rid of Islamists’ enemies and undermine the freedom of labour unions.

The opposition front said it filed complaints to the country’s top prosecutor and the election commission asking for an investigation.

“The results of the referendum are for sure because of the rigging, violations and mismanagement that characterized it,” the opposition group said.

‘Historic opportunity’

However, the Brotherhood insisted violations were limited and should not affect the referendum’s integrity.

The Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political arm, said it hoped the passage of the constitution would be a “historic opportunity” to heal Egypt’s divisions and launch a dialogue to restore stability and build state institutions.

If the violations are considered serious enough, there could be new votes in some areas that alter the results slightly.

One major concern in the aftermath of the constitutional turmoil is Egypt’s deteriorating economy, which has been battered by the two years of turmoil and taken an added hit from renewed violence recently.

The referendum was conducted in two stages with the first vote on Dec. 15 and the second on Saturday. The Muslim Brotherhood and some media outlets have accurately tallied the outcome of past elections by compiling numbers released by electoral officials at thousands of individual polling stations shortly after voting closes.

Turnout for the vote was 32 per cent of Egypt’s more than 51 million eligible voters, according to the Muslim Brotherhood. That was significantly lower than other elections since the uprising ended in February 2011. The opposition has pointed to the low turnout as well as allegations of violations in the voting to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the referendum.

The Brotherhood said 64 per cent voted “yes” to the constitution in a tally of both stages of voting. For Saturday’s second stage only, the Brotherhood said 71 per cent of those who voted said “yes” with 99 per cent of polling stations accounted for.

As expected, it was a jump from the first round of voting when about 56 per cent said “yes.” The provinces that voted in the second round were known for being a base for Brotherhood supporters.

Only about eight million of the 25 million Egyptians eligible to vote in the second stage — a turnout of about 30 per cent — cast their ballots. Some 32 per cent of eligible voters participated in the first round.

The local media has reported results similar to the Brotherhood’s. State-owned Al-Ahram newspaper said in its English language online version that 16.2 million eligible voters cast their vote, and the constitution passed with a 63.96 per cent. Those numbers reflected totals of the two stages of voting.

Vote supervision problems

The National Salvation Front alleged the vote was marred by lack of complete judicial supervision, which led to overcrowding that pushed down the voting rate. It also charged there was interference by those who were supposed to be supervising the vote, with some instructing people to vote “yes.” Many judges who traditionally supervise elections boycotted supervising the vote.

“We don’t think the results reflect the true desires of the Egyptian people,” Khaled Dawoud, the front’s spokesman, told The Associated Press.

The Front said that regardless of the results, it welcomed the participation of many who rejected the constitution and refused to consider it a vote on Islamic law. The group vowed to continue to “democratically” work to change the constitution and praised the high turnout of women.

The Islamists say Islam is core to Egypt’s identity and they view the constitution as a foundation to move forward, elect a parliament and build state institutions.

The new constitution will come into effect once official results are announced.

Once that happens, Morsi is expected to call for the election of parliament’s lower chamber, the more powerful of the legislature’s two houses, within two months.

The opposition said that even though it is challenging the results of the referendum, it will continue to prepare for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Until the lower chamber is elected, the normally toothless upper house, or Shura Council, will have legislative powers.

On Sunday, Morsi appointed 90 new members to the Islamist-controlled Shura Council as part of his efforts to make the council more representative. The new appointments included at least 25 Islamists and eight Christians. They also include eight women, four of them Christians.

The opposition front said it did not want its members nominated to the Shura Council.

© The Associated Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

Thousands still without power in storm-hit Quebec, Ontario

Some Canadians may be having a more old-fashioned Christmas than they intended, as thousands of homes and businesses in Quebec and Ontario are still without electricity after a winter storm knocked out power lines.

At its peak, the power outage left about 130,000 Hydro Québec clients without power, with residents in the Laurentians, the Lanaudière and Outaouais regions being the hardest-hit.

About 60 Hydro Québec crews worked around the clock last night to restore power to 10,000 homes. In total, workers have restored power to more than 85,000 customers since the outage began.

According to the power company, about 48,000 homes and business are still in the dark.

Hydro Québec has called for the assistance of crews from across the province to help clear fallen branches.

In Sainte-Adèle, Que., firefighters helped to lift up fallen power lines, but in some cases they simply came down again after being struck by snow-laden branches.

According to Sophie Lamoureux, director of regional affairs at Hydro Québec, Friday’s heavy, wet snowfall was the main cause of the power outages.

Quebec residents clear snow off their roof on Sunday. According to Sophie Lamoureux, director of regional affairs at Hydro Québec, Friday's heavy, wet snowfall was the main cause of the power outages.Quebec residents clear snow off their roof on Sunday. According to Sophie Lamoureux, director of regional affairs at Hydro Québec, Friday’s heavy, wet snowfall was the main cause of the power outages. ((CBC))

In the Laurentians alone, more than 110,000 customers faced power outages. Hydro Québec has restored power to 60 per cent of its customers in that region.

Most clients are expected to have their power returned by tonight, but in less accessible areas some may have to wait until Christmas Eve.

Today, close to 700 Hydro Québec workers have been deployed to help make sure their clients have a cozy Christmas.

More than 3,000 in Ontario without power

In Ontario, nearly 8,000 Hydro One customers were without power east and west of Ottawa on Friday.

Two Hydro Ottawa crews were deployed yesterday to help with recovery efforts in Western Quebec and the upper Ottawa Valley.

Crews have been working to restore electricity, but on Sunday morning more than 3,000 clients were still without power in the Ottawa region.

Black box found from Nunavut plane crash that killed baby

Investigators have located the flight data recorder, also known as a black box, that might hold information about a deadly plane crash in Nunavut on Saturday.

The plane was on its way from Winnipeg to the community when Perimeter Aviation charter Flight 671 crashed as the aircraft approached the runway around 6:13 p.m. ET Saturday. Keewatin Air, which is also known as Kivalliq Air in the North, had chartered the Fairchild Metro 3/23 twin-engine turbo prop aircraft for the flight.

The crash claimed the life of a six-month-old boy. All of the other eight people on board, including the pilot and co-pilot, survived and are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The pilot and co-pilot who were involved were flown to a Winnipeg hospital for treatment Sunday morning. Hospital officials in Winnipeg discharged the pilot early Sunday afternoon. The co-pilot is still in hospital in stable condition.

The plane, seen here at the crash site in Sanikiluaq, was a Fairchild Metro 3/23 twin-engine turbo prop.The plane, seen here at the crash site in Sanikiluaq, was a Fairchild Metro 3/23 twin-engine turbo prop. (Transportation Safety Board of Canada)

The RCMP and the Nunavut coroner’s office are attending the crash site. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada plans to launch a full investigation.

Julie Leroux, a spokeswoman for the TSB, said officials will study the black box to help determine what happened.

Gayle Conners, the TSB investigator handling the case, confirmed the plane was on its second east-to-west approach, with blowing snow conditions in the area, when it went down off the westerly end of the runway. East to west is the normal approach for Sanikiluaq.

Conners said that while the TSB is not at the crash site, there are people there taking photos and measurements. Conners said they will not send a team to the crash site, but that could change as they learn more.

The TSB has also ordered a weather study from Environment Canada.

The airplane carrying Perimeter Aviation personnel left Winnipeg for the community around 7:30 a.m. local time on Sunday. The presidents of Perimeter and Keewatin Air are in the community to lend their support to people in any way they way can.

They will also look at the crash site and meet where people from the community are gathering.

Ryder said Perimeter Aviation will continue normal operations today.

Many people in the mainly Inuit community are upset by the crash, but grateful the tragedy didn’t claim more lives. The community’s health centre has been praised for its treatment in dealing with the injured.

Passenger recalls frantic moments after crash

A woman who was on the plane said she heard the child’s frantic mother crying as she and the other survivors clamoured from the wreckage to safety.

Malaya Uppik said she doesn’t know how the tiny six-month-old was killed and doesn’t remember much about the crash, but she can still hear the mother’s screams.

Another view of the plane on the ground near the airport in Sanikiluaq. The crash site is about half a kilometre from the runway.Another view of the plane on the ground near the airport in Sanikiluaq. The crash site is about half a kilometre from the runway. (RCMP)

“I remember she was crying: ‘My baby. I lost my baby,'” Uppik, 46, said from her home in Sanikiluaq. “I only hear that she was crying ‘My baby’ and ‘I lost my baby’ and that’s all I remember.”

Uppik was among nine people — seven passengers and two pilots — on the chartered Fairchild Metro 3/23 twin-engine turbo prop when it crashed while landing Saturday night at the airport in Sanikiluaq.

RCMP say the crash occurred near the end of the runway, which sits on the north tip of Flaherty Island, roughly 150 kilometres from the Quebec shoreline. The Transportation Safety Board confirmed there was some blowing snow at the time of the crash, but said it was too early to say whether that played a role.

Some of the passengers on board, including Uppik, were in Winnipeg for medical appointments and were on their way home. Uppik said the baby, a boy, came along on the trip with his mother because he was still breast feeding. RCMP would not confirm the child’s identity.

The primary language in Sanikiluaq is Inuktitut. Uppik struggled to recall what happened in English.

“When the plane crashed, I don’t remember what I was doing,” she said. “I didn’t black out, but … when we looked like crashing, I just closed my eyes.”

When she opened them, Uppik said she heard the pilot yelling for people to get out.

“The pilot went across my seat. He cracked the window. He told us to go out right away,” she said.

The ground was slippery with fuel, she said, but there was no fire. It was dark and she didn’t see the other passengers or how badly they were hurt.

She and another survivor were met by motorized sleds on the runway and loaded on a trailer for the ride back to the airport.

Uppik said she bit her tongue, but was otherwise fine. “I’m just a little bit tired right now.”

Sarah Qavvik, another passenger, said she suffered bruises and hit her head. “It was so scary,” she said. “I’m still in shock.”

Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak expressed her condolences in a statement.

“It is with profound sadness that I offer my condolences to everyone affected by the tragic plane crash,” she said. “During this holiday season, my thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of the infant whose life ended far too soon, to the survivors, and to the entire community of Sanikiluaq.”

Sanikiluaq airport can be challenging, says pilot

A pilot who has flown around the Arctic, including into Sanikiluaq, said the airport there can present some challenges.

“Every runway in the Arctic has its own quirks. The airport itself [in Sanikiluaq] is not particularly challenging, but there are some unique aspects of it,” said Nick Czernkovich.

He said pilots can only approach the runway there from east to west. However, Czernkovich said the weather Saturday favoured a landing from the west to the east. The pilots would have had to make a decision to either travel a bit faster and go for a straight-in landing, or circle in for the opposite runway.

“On the first case you’re coming in faster. In the second case you have to make sure that you maintain visual [of the runway] while you’re circling,” he said.

“The bigger problem with Sanikiluaq is because it’s so open, as soon as you get fresh snow on the ground, visibilities can drop very quickly and they can be very changeable,” he said. “In my limited experience in that airport, that’s been the biggest challenge… variable weather from literally minute to minute.”

Visibility right before and after the crash was between three 10 kilometres, which Czernkovich said is not too bad.

5 deadly crashes in the North in 2 years

The North has been shaken by five deadly plane crashes in the past two years.

In August 2011, a First Air 737 passenger jet that was flying from Yellowknife to Resolute, Nunavut, crashed into a hill near Resolute, killing 12 of the 15 passengers and crew on board.

Usually, TSB reports take about year to complete after a crash. The TSB has yet to release its report on the Resolute investigation, saying it was a complex incident.

It did, however, release two safety recommendations since its interim report on the crash.

Several lawsuits have been filed in connection with that crash.

In September of the same year, a pilot and a co-pilot were killed when an Arctic Sunwest Charters Twin Otter float plane crashed into a vacant lot between two buildings in Yellowknife. All seven passengers on that plane were injured.

In October 2011, an Air Tindi Cessna Caravan carrying four people crashed near the community of Lutselk’e, N.W.T., which is about 200 kilometres east of Yellowknife. The pilot and one passenger died in that crash, while the two other passengers were injured.

In July 2012, a pilot was killed and another man was seriously injured when a helicopter crashed in southern Yukon. The pilot had lived and worked as in Yellowknife for years. The R44 Raven II helicopter was owned by Whitehorse-based Horizon Helicopters.

With files from The Canadian Press

Americans want armed guards in schools, NRA claims

The largest U.S. gun rights lobbying organization on Sunday forcefully stuck to its call for placing armed police officers and security guards in every school as the best way to avoid shootings such as the recent massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, said his organization would push Congress to pay for more school security guards and would co-ordinate efforts to put former military and police officers in schools as volunteer guards.

“If it’s crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy,” LaPierre said in a broadcast interview. “I think the American people think it’s crazy not to do it. It’s the one thing that would keep people safe.”

LaPierre also refused to support any new gun-control legislation and contended that any new efforts by Congress to regulate guns or ammunition would not prevent mass shootings.

His comments on NBC television’s Meet the Press reinforced the position that the NRA took on Friday when it broke its weeklong silence on the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. LaPierre’s remarks on Friday prompted widespread criticism, even on the front page of the conservative New York Post which ran the headline: “Gun Nut! NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown.”

‘Trying to prevent shootings in schools without talking about guns is like trying to prevent lung cancer without talking about cigarettes.’— Senator Chuck Schumer

The NRA’s stand has been described by some lawmakers as tone-deaf.

Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, says LaPierre blames everything but guns for a series of mass shootings in recent years.

“Trying to prevent shootings in schools without talking about guns is like trying to prevent lung cancer without talking about cigarettes,” Schumer said.

The NRA plans to develop a school emergency response program that would include volunteers from the group’s 4.3 million members to help guard children, and has named former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, an Arkansas Republican, as national director of the program.

Hutchinson said local districts should make decisions about armed guards in schools.

“I’ve made it clear that it should not be a mandatory law that every school has this. There should be local choice, but absolutely, I believe that protecting our children with an armed guard who is trained is an important part of the equation,” he told ABC’s This Week.

© The Associated Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

Aviva joins US retreat with £1bn AmerUs sell-off

The company said it had agreed to sell the AmerUs unit to life insurer Athene Holding for almost half of the £2bn it paid for it in 2006.

John McFarlane, Aviva’s chairman, said it was an “important step forward” in the company’s plan to slim down its operations.

The sale comes less than a month after Tesco confirmed it was launching a strategic review of its Fresh Easy chain in the US.

“This considerably strengthens Aviva’s financial position, increases group liquidity and improves our economic capital surplus whilst also reducing its volatility,” Mr McFarlane said. “The disposal of the US business, combined with the recent settlement with Bankia, represents a successful end to the year and sets us up well for 2013.”

Athene Holding beat off rival approaches from other interested parties such as Harbinger Capital and Guggenheim Partners.

Aviva, which appointed Mark Wilson as its chief executive last month, is looking to sell underperforming businesses as it slims down its structure. Mr McFarlane has vowed to turn the company into a “leaner, more agile beast”. He plans to cut staff, sell businesses and seek “significant improvement” in others to reverse the poor share performance.

The former Royal Bank of Scotland non-executive director took over the helm of the insurer in May after a shareholder revolt over pay that led to former chief executive Andrew Moss’s resignation.

The shares closed up 1.3p at 382.7p as analysts welcomed the sale.

“Although there is still plenty to do, we believe that Aviva enters 2013 in far better shape than it entered 2012,” said Barrie Cornes, an analyst at Panmure.